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The prodigious output of the Tactus label must be one of the most important and thorough aural documentations of the complex history of the Italian organ culture, a culture which remains largely unknown. The organ recorded here is fascinating – built in 1842 and featuring the typical Italian characteristics common already for 350 years: a single manual, deconstructed ripieno, a wind pressure of just 48mm. But by 1842 the operatic influence was beginning to make itself felt in church music and, by extension, on Italian organ building. So Bossi Urbani’s organ also features many divided orchestral imitation stops: Corno Inglese, Viola, Violoncello, Obboe as well as Timballi, bells, and a ‘Banda’, consisting of bass drum, cymbals and side drum. This last device is used often in Iannella and Maccaroni’s duet programme of Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini and the three ‘Da Ponte’ overtures of Mozart. Its lack of variety of volume (always forte) is quite distracting – Don Giovanni is accompanied by what sound like construction works. Iannella and Maccaroni play brilliantly, though, and the speed and variety of registrations on this single-manual instrument are remarkable.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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